This S/S 2020 season, leather buyers are paying particular note to the feel of leather. In response, tanners are focusing on a natural feel, delighting lovers of skins. They’re also seizing on this tactile interest to create innovative solutions and new textures to surprise even the most experienced fingers. Here, we decode some of their latest sleights of hand.
A natural feel
A CTC expert gets straight to the point: “Very few leathers have a truly natural feel, that of the wet phase. Given brands’ demands and specifications, finishing is almost always a necessity.” Only genuine dipped lambskin, whose faultless appearance doesn’t need to be covered, can lay claim to a truly natural feel. “They undergo a fatliquoring process with agents that penetrate deep into the hide and resins are added during retanning to close the grain, to give it the greatest possible fineness and softness,” continues the technical expert.
“Natural handles are prepared in the tanning and re-tanning stages, and can be more or less slippery,” adds our contact at Dani. Cetinkaya dries its aluminium-salt tanned lambskin items in a drum to enhance an authentic feel. The amazingly supple and sensual result is particularly well-suited to apparel. At Tanneries Roux, Abrigo calfskin-leather, which is aniline finished with a simple coloured wax, also has an exquisite natural feel. But some tanners will turn to special techniques in place of finishings to modify the feel and texture of a skin, creating surprising effects. For example, Cetinkaya imparts a papery texture to a vegetable-tanned lamb skin by pressing it. At Rémy Carriat, tanners pass the skin under the heated cylinders of a Finiflex-type ironing machine to accentuate its smooth, slippery look.
Chrome-free lamb leather for apparel from Cetinkaya
Leather | Full grain leather | CKD CETINKAYA, Turkey | Ref : EASY NAPPA – EASY NAPPA – |100% leather | See more
Abrigo calf leather with a natural feel from Tanneries Roux
Leather | Full grain leather | Tanneries Roux, France| Ref : VEAU MALAGA – MALAGA – |100% leather | See more
Vegetable-tanned lamb leather with a papery texture bonded to fabric, from Cetinkaya
Leather | Full grain leather | CKD CETINKAYA, Turkey| Ref : PORTORICO – PORTORICO – |100% leather | See more
“Greased” leathers do not undergo any finishing either, and are so named due to being drummed dry with hot air in the presence of natural oils “that adhere to the surface of the skin,” explains the CTC expert.
The result is a greasy and slippery feel, which won’t leave any trace on the fingers. They are especially intended for footwear and motorbike equipment. The leathers are rather thick and require regular maintenance, as oily agents tend to migrate somewhat. Several examples from Rémy Carriat and Masoni were shown at the latest edition of Première Vision Leather.
Young bull from Rémy Carriat
Leather | Full grain leather | Tannerie Rémy Carriat, France| Ref : Taurillon Socoa Grain de Café- Taurillon Socoa Grain de Café – |100% leather | See more
Playing multiple hands
It is primarily during the final finishing stages, at the end of the currying process, that various kinds of texture can be imparted to leather. “In the final finishing layer, a texturing agent, often derived from silicone oils, is added in small quantities (at most 3% to 4%), to give the leather a silky, candle, talc, slippery or other texture,” explains a CTC expert. “And you can combine several agents to obtain specific textures.” The process is done by spraying or roll coating.
The enhanced texture is combined with increased abrasion resistance, which is particularly advantageous for leather goods or clothing. “It’s important not to confuse ‘greased leather’ (NB: as mentioned in the previous paragraph) with a ‘greasy hand’, resulting from a finishing process done with a texture agent fixed to the core of the fibrethat gives the impression of greased leather, but is more durable and not subject to migration,” notes our expert.
The last edition of Première Vision Leather provided an excellent overview of the wide range of possible textures, all obtained through special finishings. A dry feel is found at Tess– on nubucked lamb, at TMM– on mixed tanned bovine leather, and Riba Guixa– on washed lamb. Rubber textures stand out at Cetinkaya– on lamb leather, at TMM. An ultra-soft and sensual touch is found at Richard– on lamb leather and at Russo di Cassandrino– on metallic-finish lamb leather. And a super smooth and slippery feel is found at Alex Vistman– on bovine leather. Leather with a nearly infinite variety of feel and texture, to inspire designers in any genre.
Nubucked lamb from Tess, with a dry-hand finishing
Leather | Full grain leather | TESS, Turkey| Ref : T014648 – SHEEP SUEDE – |100% leather | See more
Mixed-tanned bovine leather, dry hand, from TMM
Leather | Full grain leather | TMM, Tunisia| Ref : Ouate Cerf – Ouate Cerf – |100% leather | See more
Washed lamb with a dry hand from Riba Guixa
Leather | Full grain leather | RIBA GUIXA, Spain | Ref : 1-A – NAPA PONTE – |100% leather | See more
Lamb leather with a rubber feel from Cetinkaya
Leather | Full grain leather | CKD CETINKAYA, Turkey | Ref : ANGEL -ANGEL – |100% leather | See more
Lamb leather with a soft touch from Richard
Leather | Full grain leather | Mégisserie Richard, France| Ref : Plongé toucher ganterie – Plongé toucher ganterie – |100% leather | See more
Metallic lamb leather with a soft touch from Russo di Cassandrino
Leather | Full grain leather | Russo di Casandrino, Italy | Ref : Nappa ranch metal – NAPPA RANCH METAL – |100% leather | See more
Bovine leather with a smooth, slippery feel from Alex Vistman
Leather | Full grain leather | Alexander Vistmann, Italy | Ref : Roma – ROMA – |100% leather | See more